If you enjoy reading some one else's mail this note might interest you - your life may depend on it.
Of course, it may be cause for removing me from the blogosphere - stay tuned?
Green Diamond Systems
August 5, 2013 (edits 8//7/13 acp)
Mr. Richard Sullivan, Secretary
MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114
Dear Secretary Sullivan:
Your discussion of the progress your agency has made with renewable energies over the past 5 years was interesting more for the things it did not say than for the tremendous progress you report. It would have been more helpful if you had included the item from Climate Progress about the call for much greater effort by three (actually 4) past Republican EPA Administrators. Their note ends with the following quote “The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.”
Unfortunately your group has fallen victim to the misinformation campaign that was so successfully carried out by your predecessor and the rest of the Patrick Administration. The accomplishments that you tout would have been significant in a less demanding time, but unfortunately MA is continuing to add to the problem and you have not put what is happening is(n) a meaningful perspective. The latest data your group has reported is for 2010: Total Summer time Generation capacity ~14,000 mw. You cite recent progress of adding renewable capacity at 281mw, which you claim to be well above the Patrick Administration's goal of 250mw. CONGRATULATIONS FOR EXCEEDING YOUR GOAL!
It is time now to stop patting yourself on the back and state the obvious: We need to change our cultural attitude.
The misinformation of your predecessor was built on a long campaign by our corporate controlled government to destabilize the rural – sustainable – portion of the global population and bring them into cities where they are hostage to whatever policy the government chooses to adopt. See the short summary of the process of agricultural destabilization attached. Your policies amount to little more than a continuation of that irresponsible program.
The recent responses of your Department of Environmental Protection and Division of Energy Resources to requests for more local control over sources of energy and pollution abatement have convinced me that there is little interest in the Patrick Administration for any change in this corporate dominated impending disaster. The following is a portion of a letter to the authors of a guide book of required practices for the forestry arena.
“I am sure that you are aware of the need for clear statement of what is important particularly when it applies to legalities. I therefore call your attention to the fact that there are some much more serious issues that we all face than compliance with poorly crafted laws such as CH. 132. These include:
The unfortunate acceptance by the forestry community of the content of the Manomet Report wherein it is stated that forests are stable carbon sequestration vehicles, (NOAA has recently revised its understanding of storm intensity and frequency – both are going to increase in the near future, all trees over 40’ tall are at 100% risk to winds over 70mph),
The rapid loss of Arctic ice coverage and the resulting unpredictable methane release will lead to blockage of normal weather patterns, periodic drought, warming or cooling in erratic ways….,
The loss of jobs and markets due to increasing automation and concomitant industrial energy use allowing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few large companies and banks that control them,
The urgent need for local carbon negative combined heat and power systems that everyone knows how to use (the Conservation Law Foundation declares that there is no such thing as carbon negativity), and
The role that “working” forests with good access need to play in resolving the above.
Therefore, I suggest that this document “Massachusetts Forestry Best Management Practices” should have the word “Best” changed to “Required and Acceptable”. This document makes no mention of the costs that are imposed on the rural communities by this myopic regulation. You bear complicity in these outcomes by aiding in the acceptance of it and enforcing it.
Secretary Sullivan, do you wish to be part of this criminal scheme of misinformation? I hereby ask you be more forthcoming with the public at large as to the gravity of the situation we all face. I ask that you be especially clear about the availability of resources within the State to support the urban and particularly the poor portion of the population. Your choice to continue the current level of misinformation will be grounds for charging you with CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY at a time when action is still possible - if those who can act are given the resources and approval to do so. The continuing obstruction of proactivity by-those-of-limited- means through politically expedient measures is extremely unhelpful and in fact unnecessary. The lack of responsible action now will guarantee the loss of all the things your agency was put in place to protect. I will be happy to support and applaud your proactivity or to testify at a hearing for your conviction for the above crimes. It is time to act “to change our cultural attitude.” The choice is yours to make!
“The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.”
Alan C. Page, Ph.D., Research Forester
Massachusetts Licensed Forester #184, NH Licensed Forester #218
By Joe Romm on August 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm
Former EPA administrators, from left: Christine Todd Whitman, Russell Train, Bill Ruckelshaus, Stephen Johnson, Lee Thomas, Carol Browner and Bill Reilly.
CREDIT: (Credit: AP)
Four former heads of the Environmental Protection Agency during GOP presidencies have penned an important op-ed for the New York Times, “A Republican Case for Climate Action.”
William Ruckelshaus (1970-1973, 1983-1985), Lee Thomas (1985-1989), William Reilly (1989-1993), and Christine Whitman (2001-2003) dismiss climate deniers, warn we are risking our “livable climate,” endorse Obama’s climate plan, and call for even more action from their fellow Republicans:
There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.
The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes “locked in.”
The former EPA administrators make clear that while this has become a partisan issue, it shouldn’t be:
We served Republican presidents, but we have a message that transcends political affiliation: the United States must move now on substantive steps to curb climate change, at home and internationally….
We can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. All parties know that we need both. The rest of the discussion is either detail, which we can resolve, or purposeful delay, which we should not tolerate.
They say that “the best path to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions” would be a “market-based approach, like a carbon tax” but realize “that is unachievable in the current political gridlock in Washington.” And so they embrace the next best alternative:
Dealing with this political reality, President Obama’s June climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. He will use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate.
It is heartening to see such blunt, sensible comments from some of the most credible Republican experts on the environment. The former EPA chiefs close with a powerful scientific warning aimed directly at the do-nothing crowd:
Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start. More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste.
Embattled Farmers: 1776 and 2003
by Jody Aliesan
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
from "Concord Hymn," Ralph Waldo Emerson
American farmers in the English colonies were expected to produce for the colonizers. They endured low prices, inadequate credit, high taxes, large debts, and the dumping of excess English foodstuffs on their local market.
Agrarian insurrections began in 1676 and culminated in the "Great Rebellion" in New York in 1766. British troops routed the insurgent farmers. Landlords evicted them and destroyed their property.
By April 1775 many colonial farmers were furious that while they lived on American soil, planted it and built on it, the wealth produced was going to enrich England particularly the aristocracy and mercantile speculators.
Emerson's stanza honors the moment when the people who worked the land in seed and harvest stood up to the most powerful political, economic and military power in the world.
The new colonizers
Two centuries later, a handful of agriculture conglomerates work to drive small farmers off their land by paying them less for their produce than it costs to grow, moving them into a cycle of loans, mortgages, foreclosures, repossessions and the sale of land to corporate-controlled agribusiness.
In 1962, a committee of the most powerful corporate executives in the United States issued "An Adaptive Program for Agriculture," a plan to eliminate farmers and farms. Called the Committee for Economic Development, this group represented oil and gas, insurance, investment and retail concerns as well as the food industry. Industry giants such as Campbell Soup, General Foods, Pillsbury and Swift lobbied Congress with the message that the biggest problem in agriculture was too many farmers. The U.S. government encouraged farmers to move off their farms and retrain, allowing their land to be consolidated in the ownership of fewer and fewer corporations.
In the 1970s, Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz called on farmers to "Plant fence row to fence row." Giant grain companies were selling U.S.-grown food to Europe, the former U.S.S.R. and the Third World. Prices were up; farmers experienced their most profitable years in history.
But Secretary Butz also said, "Get big or get out." There was no reason not to trust him. Farmers began to buy all the available land they could find. To pay the rapidly rising prices, they mortgaged their farms and equipment. Inflation was driving up land values faster than interest rates were rising; loan experts claimed that those who didn't take advantage of that were fools.
But those who made their fortunes on interest were losing ground. Inflation was eroding their wealth, and they blamed the Federal Reserve. The Fed's only recourse was to apply the brakes, pull money out of the system, drive up interest rates and push the economy into a deep recession.
On October 8, 1979, Paul Volcker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, gave the banks and financiers what they wanted. The nation's wealthy were the winners; the nation's middle and lower classes particularly those in rural America watched themselves lose.
Farmland values fell sharply while interest rates on farm loans shot through the roof. Diminished land value left mortgages under-collateralized and loans were called in. Interest rates as high as 15 percent pushed farm families into foreclosure. After denying them refinancing, the banks resold their farms with lower-interest loans.
At that point the Reagan Administration moved to practice its economic theories on rural America. The 1985 Farm Bill decreased government subsidies. Prices for crops fell almost overnight by as much as 46 percent. Processors and international exporters experienced a financial boom. The farmers' money went into the pockets of the multinationals.
To secure their gains, these corporations lobbied hard to have the changes written into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). As a result, 600,000 family farms failed before the end of the decade, their land consolidated into corporate mega-operations hundreds of thousands of acres in size.
In 1990, George Washington University reported in its Intergovernmental Health Policy Project that this social engineering had taken a heavy human toll: collapse of farm-related businesses and rural communities, unemployment and underemployment, substandard housing, hunger, mental illness, child abuse, substance abuse, anxiety disorders and depression. By 1989 suicide was the leading cause of death on family farms, three times the rate of the general population. And that didn't include the "accidents."
Buy local, buy often
Those in positions of power consider the collapse of rural America as a necessary and inevitable result of a global economy. From their point of view it would be counterproductive to reduce the suffering or mitigate the effects, let alone reverse the policies.
Multinational corporations assume that we won't make the effort to buy food directly from local producers or look for retailers who do so. Without competition, the corporations can pay farmers as little as they choose and charge us whatever they want. By the time we decide prices are too high and start looking for the farmers, they may be gone.
"Farm employment must decline"
The level of farm prices does determine to some degree how many people will be engaged in agriculture, which leads us to another basic analytical point reflected in the postwar economic history of all our countries. The process of economic growth everywhere requires that the absolute level of employment in agriculture decline over time. Farm employment must decline given the combination of low income elasticity of demand for farm products (i.e. demand increases more slowly than income in our countries) with productivity change at least as rapid as in the rest of the economy. In fact increases in labor productivity in agriculture have generally been greater than in industrial employment.
"Agricultural Policy and Trade: Adjusting Domestic Programs In An International Framework," a report by the Trilateral Commission (1985), authored by D. Gale Johnson, University of Chicago, Kenzo Hemmi, former Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Toyko, and Pierre Lardinois, Chairman of the Executive Board, Rabobank.
"You are going to have to do farmers severe injustice"
The only way I know to get toothpaste out of a tube is to squeeze, and the only way to get people out of agriculture is likewise to squeeze agriculture. If the toothpaste is thin, you don't have to squeeze very hard; on the other hand, if the toothpaste is thick, you have to put real pressure on it. If you can't get people out of agriculture easily, you are going to have to do farmers severe injustice in order to solve the problem of allocation.
Kenneth E. Boulding, Department of Economics, University of Michigan, Member of the Research Advisory Board for the Committee for Economic Development's 1962 Study "An Adaptive Program for Agriculture."